Thu 30 Jun 2016

Who On Earth Drinks Off-Dry Orvieto?

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I have a confession to make. I for one have never ordered a bottle of Orvieto ClOrvieto Amabileassico Amabile from the Barberani family.

It has been on The Society’s wine List for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t a wine that I could ever imagine drinking.

Not until recently, that is.

I was lucky enough to accompany Sebastian Payne MW, our buyer of Italian wine, to Orvieto earlier this year and prior to our visit to the Barberanis, we talked about who bought this off-dry version of an Italian classic.

Sebastian informed me that the wine enjoys a modest, loyal following among members. We assumed, perhaps wrongly, that it is a wine that members buy to offer to friends that just can’t take dryer styles of whites.

I was curious about the wine and how it is enjoyed in Italy, so put this question to brothers Niccolò and Bernardo and their father, Luigi (I didn’t admit that I had never tasted this wine before!).

They informed me that the amabile style is actually what people used to drink locally and that it has a long tradition in the area. The grapes – grechetto and trebbiano procanico – are left a little longer on the vine and fermentation is stopped before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol.

The resulting wine, produced from meticulously tended vineyards and pristine cellars, is whistle clean, delicately fruity, fresh and with moderate alcohol (12%).

Winemaker Bernardo with his father Luigi and brother Niccolò, proudly holding up their properly sweet dessert wine Calcaia which we shall offer later this year

Winemaker Bernardo with his father Luigi and brother Niccolò, proudly holding up their properly sweet dessert wine Calcaia which we shall offer later this year

We give it a 4 (out of 9) sweetness code, which I always imagine is definitively medium-sweet, but I was pleasantly surprised by the wine; round and gentle, but with a lovely interplay of acidity and sugar, I could really see its appeal.

But how do they serve it? I wanted to know.

The Barberanis seemed a bit bemused by my incessant questioning. ‘Well, we serve it as an aperitif,’ they said, ‘it works well with cheese or even shellfish… sometimes we have it at the end of a meal, perhaps with fruit or even mid-afternoon on its own!’

Sadly, our gastronomic traditions rarely match up to those of our Italian friends, so as I tasted the wine, I thought about how I might enjoy it back home in Blighty.

It wasn’t that I was looking for excuses, I was genuinely so pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that I really liked a style of wine that I had blindly written off (without tasting), that I wanted to try it out at home.

Starters - Italian style

Starters – Italian style

There’s just a little hint of spice to the gently fruity flavour that made me think that this Orvieto Amabile would work well with subtly spiced dishes – indeed, I have now bought some of the wine and tried it out with a mild Asian-style salmon curry dish and a traditional creamy fish pie.

I am pleased to say that my hunch paid off and that (in my view at least) – the matches worked well.

I should also learn to be less prejudiced about things I haven’t tried before!

The Barberanis’ Orvieto Classico Amabile 2015, was recently on offer in our Great Savings for Summer offer at the special price of £75 a dozen instead of £83, which we have extended (for this wine only) until Tuesday 12th July, 2016.

So, if you haven’t tried it yet, now might be a good time to give it a go and join that other group of members who are already in the know!

Oh, and do let us know how you serve it too!

Joanna Goodman
Communications Editor

Categories : Italy

Comments

  1. John K-P says:

    I once had Antinori’s Orvieto Classico Abbacato, a slightly drier wine than Amabile,

    with parma ham and melon. It was a match made in heaven.

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